6) THE AZTECS

23 May - 13 June 1964

Average Viewing Figure: 6.5M

Plot

Barbara is mistaken for the reincarnation of the High Priest Yetaxa and tries to end the Aztecs' savage ways. However The Doctor warns Barbara that history must never been tampered with. 

Cast

William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)

Keith Pyott (Autloc), John Ringham (Tlotoxl), Ian Cullen (Ixta), Margot Van der Burgh (Cameca), Tom Booth (Frist Victim)

Walter Randall (Tonila), Andre Boulay (Perfect Victim), David Anderson (Aztec Captain)

Uncredited Cast

Paul Duval, James Fitzgerald, Alan Viccars, Andrew Jacks, John Beavis, Brain Baker (Aztec Warriors), Alice Greenwood (Old Aztec Lady)

Eileen Brady, Stella Wilkinson (Aztec Ladies), John H Moore (Aztec Man), William Rayner, Lionel Gadsden (Old Aztec Men)

David Anderson (Stunt Double for Ixta), Billy Cornelius (Stunt Double for Ian Chesterton) 

Crew

John Lucarotti (Writer), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Richard Rodney Bennett (Incidental Music), Marcus Dods (Conductor)

David Anderson (Fight Arranger), Daphne Dare (Costumes), Jill Summers (Make-Up), David Whitaker (Story Editor)

Barry Newbery (Designer), Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer), Verity Lambert (Producer), John Crockett (Director)

Uncredited Crew

Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), June McMullen (Director's Assistant), Clive Doig, Jim Stephens (Vision Mixers)

Ron Craddock (Production Assistant), Bernard Havard (Floor Assistant), Pat Heigham (Grams Operator)

Mark Lewis (Technical Operations Manager), Howard King (Studio Lighting), John Staple, Jack Brummitt (Studio Sound)

Ken Howard (Assistant Floor Manager)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Ealing Film Studios

  • Lime Grove: Studio D

  • Television Centre: Studio 3

Deaths

  • Ixta [thrown off a tomb by Ian]

  • First Victim [throws himself off a temple]​​

  • Aztec Captain [killed by Ixta]

  • Perfect Victim [sacrificed by Tlotoxl]

Production Days

  • 6 Days between Monday 13 April - Friday 22 May 1964

Production Days

  1. There is no correct way of pronouncing 'Tlotoxl' since all of the characters pronounce his name differently

  2. When the camera 'zooms in' on Tlotoxl during the sacrifice scene, the camera lurches after hitting a set prop

  3. During the fight between Ian and Ixta, the edge of the can be seen on the right 

  4. The Doctor interrupts Ian, as Ian attempts to warn The Doctor about the impending sacrifice 

Working Titles

  • [no known working titles]

Verdict

But you can't rewrite history! Not one line!” The Aztecs marks the first time in show’s history which directly addresses the implications which come with time travel. From a third-party standpoint it’s easy to side with both The Doctor and Barbara about whether or not it is morally acceptable to change history for the better. For The Doctor, he only wants to explore the Universe and never interfere; for Barbara, a history teacher, she only wants to help the Aztecs for the better. 
Perhaps what’s most interesting about The Aztecs aren’t the gorgeous sets and costumes, the eerie soundtrack, the excellent use of camera angles, the special effects or the performances, but rather, the antagonists themselves. Doctor Who villains tend to be driven by textbook desires and goals, but here, they only want to uphold Aztec honour and tradition. Tlotoxl’s only motivation is to prove that Barbara is a false goddess to the point where he plans to poison Barbara to prove his point. Can we really hate the guy? After all, Barbara exploits Aztec religious beliefs just to keep herself and her friends alive. Can we really blame Tlotoxl for wanting to expose Barbara as an imposter?
The Aztecs teaches us that travelling with The Doctor can be tough, and sometimes moral obligations and humanitarian feelings must be sacrificed in order to survive for another day. The Doctor falls in love, unknowingly proposes, and unwittingly parts ways with Cameca in a short space of four-episodes, with only a single broach to remember her by. Whilst historical-based narratives slowly phased out of the show’s format as time went on, The Aztecs is a fine piece of television that does more than just educate. ****